Under eye creams are one of the most popular cosmetic products. They help correct dark under eye circles, tighten and smooth skin, and brighten the eyes. They also maintain youth and prevent signs of aging, so under eye creams are appropriate for all ages.
I’ve narrowed down the most effective under eye creams on the market based on their ability to both prevent and repair signs of aging, keeping your skin smooth and bright.
Part 1 ranks this year’s 10 best under eye creams in order, and part 2 will go over how they work and answer some FAQs.
10. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Cream
Estee Lauder is one of the most long-standing, well-respected skincare companies out there. Their Advanced Night Repair Eye Cream is an anti-aging eye cream meant to be applied before bedtime to help moisturize and repair the skin under your eyes.
The two key ingredients in Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Eye Cream are hyaluronic acid, which moisturizes the skin, and alkyl guanine transferase, which repairs skin damage.
Hyaluronic acid sounds scary, but it actually isn’t harsh at all. It’s not a typical allergen, and it’s actually found naturally in our bodies in small quantities. It’s a moisture-binding ingredient that plumps and hydrates skin. It can even treat redness, wounds, and eczema.
Scientists have basically called it the “holy grail” of keeping skin looking wrinkle-free and youthful. Multiple studies have shown that the proper treatment of hyaluronic acid can increase skin elasticity by 20%. (1)
Alkyl guanine transferase is a damage repair protein that actually protects cells. It has been shown by numerous studies to repair DNA and aid in healing, but Estee Lauder was the first company that thought to introduce the protein to skincare products, subsequently patenting it in their Advanced Night Repair Eye Cream formula. (2) (3)
This is a powerful eye cream from a time-tested company.
9. Mary Kay TimeWise Firming Eye Cream
One of the most popular products from Mary Kay, and indeed in the eye cream world, their TimeWise Firming Eye Cream has proven to be very effective.
This thick cream is specially formulated to target dryness and discoloration around the eyes while improving firmness and brightness. The rich, creamy texture of the cream feels great on dehydrated under eye skin, and it’s reported to show results in as little as two weeks.
Its ophthalmologist-tested formula is made up of botanical extracts. Key ingredients are a collagen-enhancing peptide duo to revitalize and firm skin and aloe leaf extract, which serves as a moisturizer.
Peptides are often recommended for skincare use because they support collagen production. Sagging skin, wrinkles, and other skin problems are often a result of the loss of collagen, so increasing your collagen count is crucial to anti-aging products.
Aloe leaf extract has long been used for wide variety of skincare purposes as it’s a natural healing agent and skin softener. Studies have shown that topical application of aloe vera greatly accelerates wound healing and thus could also help repair aging skin. (4)
8. Olay Total Effects 7-in-One Anti-Aging Transforming Eye Cream
Olay’s popular under eye cream targets 7 different signs of aging all in one product. These seven benefits include moisturizing, reducing puffiness, correcting discoloration, enhancing brightness, evening skin tone, and smoothing skin texture.
While it doesn’t look sparkly to the human eye, the cream does contain tiny light-reflecting particles that help to hide imperfections in the skin.
Other key ingredients in Olay’s formula are pro-vitamin B5 and glycerin for moisturizing, niacinamide for fighting wrinkles, and green tea extract and vitamin E for antioxidants.
Vitamin B5 is one of the most important vitamins humans can get, and it’s crucial for both skin and hair health. It can heal skin conditions, prevent irritation, and one study has even shown that it stops hair loss. (5)
Vitamin E and green tea are powerful antioxidants that cleanse your skin of toxins and protect against sun damage.
Finally, many skin problems are actually symptoms of a niacin deficiency, which is what niacinamide aims to fight. Some studies have even shown that applying niacin it helps prevent cancer. (6)
7. Arbonne RE9 Advanced Corrective Eye Creme
This popular under eye serum from Arbonne contains no animal-derived ingredients and no artificial fragrances, which can be irritating and inflammatory.
Its botanically-based formula is made up of orange stem cells, alpha hydroxy acids, vitamin C, peptides, and brown algae extract.
Peptides boost collagen production which is proven to fight signs of aging, while alpha hydroxy acids are extensively researched and shown to have numerous benefits, including exfoliation, improved blood flow, correction of discoloration, acne prevention, and the erasure of wrinkles.
Arbonne claims that the orange stem cells improve skin radiance, elasticity, firmness, and texture. Plant stem cells are just now starting to be used in the cosmetics industry as anti-aging agents, and while dermatologists are very interested in studying their effects, research is still limited. A few studies have shown that tomato stem cells and ginger stem cells show minimal improvements in skin texture and elasticity. (7)
While consumers report seeing a slow down in aging and even sometimes a reduction in wrinkles, the biggest benefit by far with this eye cream is its ability to target puffy bags and dark circles under the eyes. Many report seeing their dark circles disappear entirely after a couple weeks.
6. Baebody Eye Gel
Baebody is a new brand in the cosmetics scene that went viral on Amazon with their eye gel for dark circles, puffiness, wrinkles, and bags. They call themselves the most effective anti-aging eye gel, and the reviews seem to agree.
A key ingredient in the Baebody formula is hyaluronic acid, which is highly recommended by most dermatologists. Studies have shown that it can increase skin elasticity by 20% while creating a noticeable improvement in wrinkles and skin texture within 60 days. (8)
Matrixyl 3000 is also used to smooth wrinkles, which is an anti-aging peptide. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that peptides help boost collagen production, and one of the main reasons for signs of aging in skin is decreased collagen.
The Matrixyl 3000 also contains amino acids, which are key to maintaining youthful skin. Certain amino acids have actually been found to trigger skin cells to produce hyaluronic acid, the miracle skin ingredient, naturally. (9)
The gel contains no fillers, dyes, parabens, or harmful fragrances, and it’s even cruelty-free.
5. Nerium Age Defying Eye Serum
Age-Defying Eye Serum by Nerium is designed to give you quick results while also working to improve your skin long-term. It aims to make the skin appear more even and toned by fighting discoloration, wrinkles, and puffiness.
The star of the show here is Nerium’s proprietary ingredient SIG-1191. This is a molecule that is patented and exclusive to Nerium, so research is limited. It works as an antioxidant, which does protect your skin’s collagen from sun damage.
I-FIL4R is another exclusive ingredient in this serum, and it’s derived from white lily and Brazilian ginseng. Ginseng has been well-documented as a plant that has powerful anti-aging properties. It helps your skin to maintain its original shape and boosts collagen production while promoting healthy, glowing skin. (10)
The formula also contains peptides, jojoba, green tea, and aloe.
According to Nerium’s own trials, 67% of users showed an improvement in their dark under eye circles after 8 weeks, while 80% showed brighter skin in the eye area. Finally, 89% showed a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines in the eye area after 8 weeks.
4. Avon Anew Clinical Dual Eyelift System
Avon’s under eye product is a dual system because it contains both an under eye cream and an under eye gel. The gel targets your eyelids and brow bone area while the cream targets your under eye and cheekbone area.
According to Avon, this dual cream/gel system can provide a dramatic lift to your skin in just one week, making your skin firmer and erasing the signs of aging.
One of the key ingredients is caffeine, which increases blood circulation and reduces puffiness. Caffeine is often used in products that fight cellulite because of its ability to thicken the epidermis, or the top layer of skin. (11) This does create a smoothing effect.
Polymers are used to temporarily firm skin so that you see quick results, while glucosamine HCL is used to produce more long-term results. Also used as a treatment for arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties, glucosamine is a powerful ingredient for increasing your skin’s elasticity when applied topically.
Finally, various plant extracts reduce darkness while glycerin and shea butter moisturize.
This is one of the few under eye products that contains two formulas in one meant to attack all signs of aging by targetting both the upper eye and under eye. It’s one of Avon’s most beloved products for both its effectiveness and its hypoallergenic properties that ensure your skin won’t become irritated.
3. Kate Somerville Retinol Firming Eye Cream
Kate Sommerville’s firming and brightening under eye cream isn’t cheap, but quality comes at a price.
The texture of this cream is silky and light, so it doesn’t feel heavy and oily like a lot of under eye creams do. At the same time, ingredients like palm, cotton, and linseed oils provide hydration. Hyaluronic acid, the key ingredient to many of the most effective skin creams, also moisturizes the skin.
This is a retinol eye cream, which means that retinoids, one of the most well-researched anti-aging ingredients, are the key ingredient. Retinoids are a class of vitamin A that specifically reduce fine lines and wrinkles as well as pore size.
They work by neutralizing free radicals in the skin, which are cell-damaging atoms that decrease collagen production, the most essential protein to maintaining healthy, youthful skin. Studies show that retinoids also promote new collagen production, leaving your skin with improved texture and hydration, an even tone, fewer age spots, and better pigmentation. (12)
The product doubles the effect of retinol by also incorporating bio retinol, which are botanical ingredients that create similar reactions to retinol.
Finally, lime pearl speeds up cell regeneration while light diffusing optics produce immediate results by reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Clinical trials show that 100% of women showed improvements in wrinkles and crow’s feet after just one use, and after 4 weeks, 94% of women saw improvements in elasticity and skin firmness. If you can afford it, Kate Sommerville’s Retinol Firming Eye Cream is one of the best.
2. Rodan + Fields Multi-Function Eye Cream
Rodan and Fields have been one of the biggest names in skincare since their founders created Proactiv over two decades ago.
Now, their REDEFINE Multi-Function Eye Cream is one of the top anti-aging products on the market. It’s marketed as a multi-tasking eye cream that minimizes wrinkles, firms, and brightens.
To achieve this, Rodan And Fields uses two powerful skincare ingredients: peptides and antioxidants. The peptides boost collagen production which in turn regenerates cells and restores youthful skin, smoothing wrinkles and fine lines. Antioxidants energize skin under the eyes in order to firm and lift while optical filters reflect light in order to immediately brighten skin around the eyes.
Lecithin is another key ingredient used to hydrate, tone, and smooth skin that’s often used to treat acne as well. Ginkgo Biloba extract is an anti-inflammatory that helps fight puffiness.
This under eye cream is both gentle and sufficiently hydrating, which is hard to find in one cream. It’s a great option for people who have sensitive skin.
1. Jeunesse Instantly Ageless
Instantly Ageless “Facelift in a Box” by Jeunesse is a set of single-use vials meant to be applied to the entire face in order to fight all signs of aging, from forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet to enlarged pores and hooded eyes.
If you’re looking for immediate results, Jeunesse claims that their special formula works in just 2 minutes to reduce the appearance of under-eye bags, wrinkles, and pores and lasts up to 9 hours.
Many people have seen some pretty incredible effects that do in fact mirror the effect of botox without any surgery. Instantly Ageless achieves this through three main ingredients: argireline, sodium silicate, and magnesium aluminum silicate.
Argireline is often referred to as “nature’s botox” for its ability to smooth and lift the skin. It’s a naturally occurring peptide that stimulates the production of collagen on very high levels.
It also blocks neurotransmitters from reaching the muscles in your face, preventing them from contracting and causing them to relax, thus eliminating wrinkles much in the same way that botox does. One study done by the Molecular and Cellular Biology Center in Spain showed that people who applied this peptide to their skin saw a 30% reduction in wrinkles. (13)
Sodium silicate works as a highly effective skin tightener by preventing skin corrosion and adjusting pH levels. While it has been shown to produce irritation in high quantities, the levels present in cosmetic products have been deemed safe. (14)
Finally, magnesium aluminum silicate is a natural thickening agent derived from clay that is used to create a smoother, more robust formula.
Overall, the results produced by Jeunesse’s Instantly Ageless product are unbeatable. There’s really nothing else out there like this product.
Part 2: Why should you use under eye creams? What are their benefits and side effects?
Rather than cover up the signs of aging with skin-irritating concealers and foundations, under eye creams work to fight and prevent wrinkles, under eye circles, puffiness, and more, so that you can maintain naturally youthful skin.
There’s a reason under eye creams are one of the most popular cosmetic products. They have a range of benefits. But do some also come with side effects for your skin?
Benefits of under eye creams
Under eye creams fight signs of aging around the eyes, which are many.
Some benefits that most under eye creams claim are the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines, correction of dark under eye circles and skin toning, lifting and brightening around the eyes, improved hydration, and reduction of puffiness.
The skin around the eyes is extremely delicate and prone to dryness, so appropriate moisturization is very important for keeping those cells in tact. In addition, constant squinting and smiling mean that the eye area is one of the biggest problem spots when it comes to wrinkles and loss of elasticity. Finally, the weakening of tissue around the eyes with age causes under eye bags and puffiness. All of this can be prevented and reduced using under eye creams.
Retinol has long been shown to reduce the signs of aging very effectively and quickly. (15)
According to the vice president of Global Research and Development at Nu Skin, peptides are also a well-researched and proven ingredient found in many eye creams that effectively tightens and smooths skin. (16)
Due to the fragility and sensitivity of the area around the eyes, creams specifically formulated for the under eye area rather than general moisturizers are important in preventing irritation.
Side effects of under eye creams
Irritation is the number one side effect of certain under eye creams. You’ll want to make sure you pick a product that does not contain any allergens, and if you have particularly sensitive skin, you’ll want to choose accordingly.
You’ll also want to be careful when choosing a product that specifically targets dark under eye circles and age spots. Some of these creams contain bleaching agents like hydroquinone. While effective, if not used exactly as recommended, these bleaching agents can permanently damage and discolor skin. (17)
Make sure you read the label on your under eye cream for exact application instructions. Most will ask that you apply small dots beneath the eyes and then rub the cream in a circular motion around your entire eye area, avoiding your actual eyes.
Many of the under eye creams recommended here are formulated for night time use, however, there are also under eye creams that are meant to be used during the day beneath your regular makeup routine.
Under eye cream FAQ
Can I use face moisturizer on my eyes? No. While many people do this, the skin around your eyes is more fragile and sensitive than the rest of your skin. It’s recommended that you use a moisturizer that’s specifically formulated for under eye use.
When should I start using under eye cream? As early as your 20s. While many people think anti-aging products are only for people who are already showing signs of aging, they are actually preventative as well. Starting to use under eye cream early on can prevent wrinkles and dark circles later on.
How long does it take for an eye cream to work? This varies greatly depending on the product. Some, like Jeunesse’s Instantly Ageless work within minutes. However, most are designed to produce long-term results and will usually start working within about 4 weeks of use.
Do you apply eye cream on your eyelids? Most under eye creams are meant to only go below your eyes and should not be applied to your eyelids as they can get into your eyes. However, a few eye creams, such as Avon’s Clinical Dual Lift eye cream, come with special gels meant to be applied to the eyelids.
Do you apply under eye cream before or after moisturizer? Usually you want to cleanse and tone your face first, then apply any serums, gels, or under eye creams, and finish your skincare routine with an all over facial moisturizer.
What causes wrinkles around the eyes? Sun damage is largely responsible for most signs of aging in general, include wrinkles around the eyes. Squinting, smiling, and other muscle contractions can also deepen the appearance of wrinkles.
Is it okay to use night cream during the day? If an under eye cream is specifically formulated for use before bedtime, you can use it during the day, but you might find it to be a bit heavy for day use as night creams are designed to give your skin extra hydration while you sleep.
The area around the eyes is the number one problem area when it comes to signs of aging. From wrinkles and crow’s feet to dark, baggy circles and saggy skin, your under eyes are usually the first area to lose their youthful glow.
Luckily, there are plenty of effective under eye creams now with powerful, natural formulas that can both prevent and reduce symptoms of aging around the eyes. Choose the right one, and you’ll find your face looking younger, brighter, and smoother.
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